Premiership: Exeter 20-12 Northampton

Exeter v Northampton
Olly Woodburn (left) scored Exeter's only try against Northampton
Premiership
Exeter (3) 20
Try: Woodburn Pens: Steenson 5
Northampton (12) 12
Tries: Dickson, K Pisi Con: Hanrahan
Relive Sunday's Premiership action

Exeter Chiefs scored 17 unanswered second-half points as they fought back with victory over in-form Northampton to move top of the Premiership.

Saints arrived at Sandy Park on the back of five wins in six games and led 12-3 at the break thanks to tries from Lee Dickson and Ken Pisi.

Olly Woodburn scored in the corner to cut Northampton's lead.

And Gareth Steenson kicked four penalties, to add to a first-half effort, to seal victory for Exeter.

Exeter, who have won four of their last five matches, have never finished in the top four but look well set for a play-off place and sit first after Saracens lost to Leicester later on Sunday.

Sunday's Premiership results
Wasps 39-12 Sale
London Irish 23-18 Gloucester
Leicester 21-13 Saracens

Rob Baxter's side were completely transformed after half-time as they dominated the breakdown and won 10 second-half penalties, with Saints failing to earn one.

Saints finished last season as the league leaders but it has been a mixed campaign this time around following a poor start.

Their pack struggled to impose themselves in the second half, although they thought they had nicked a losing bonus-point just before full-time but the Television Match Official ruled no try.

Exeter assistant coach Ali Hepher: "We looked as though we weren't enjoying our rugby in the first half as we were frightened to make mistakes.

"We had a quiet word at half-time and this freed us up. We created a different, positive mindset and we said that we needed to be positive and not afraid of errors.

"We took on the message and turned the screw, we had a bit of self-belief."

On replacing Thomas Waldrom: "We struggled at the breakdown, Thomas wasn't injured and Julian Salvi is one of the best in that area in the Premiership."

Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder: "It's frustrating, we didn't get the bounce of the ball and a few refereeing decisions went against us.

"I thought we scored a good try right at the end, which would have got us a bonus point, and the officials were wrong to disallow it.

"I thought we were very good in the first half as we took our opportunities but our second-half performance was poor as we coughed up possession and kicked away too much ball.

"The Six Nations period was a good one for us as we've won more than we've lost and hopefully we'll be able to integrate our international players back into our side."

Exeter: Turner; Woodburn, Slade, Whitten, Short; Steenson, Lewis; Moon, Yeandle (capt.), Williams, Atkins, Parling, Ewers, Armand, Waldrom.

Replacements: Taione, Hepburn, Rimmer, Stevenson, Salvi, Chudley, Hill, Bodilly.

Northampton: Foden; K Pisi, G Pisi, Mallinder, Tuala; Hanrahan, Dickson (capt.); Waller, Haywood, Hill, Craig, Day, Harrison, Gibson, Fisher.

Replacements: Marshall, Waller, Denman, Matfield, Wood, Fotuali'i, Myler, Wilson.

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